Mindfulness and Its Discontents (2019): The argument regarding McMindfulness does not impress me much; nonetheless, an interesting read

I’ve recently come across an interesting book about mindfulness, a topic that I’ve written about previously.
Click here for previous posts about mindfulness >

Click here for page at this website regarding mindfulness >

Mindfulness and Its Discontents (2019) is available at the Stratford Public Library. The library is a great resource; I have benefited tremendously from borrowing vast numbers of books from the library over the years.

In previous years, I’ve also borrowed many books from the Toronto Public Library. Such libraries are of tremendous value for people who like to read selections of the latest books (and books from long ago, as well).

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

I find Mindfulness and Its Discontents (2019) of interest. The book is representative of a genre of works going back many years by Western writers that deal with mindfulness. I’ve discussed this genre at previous posts (see link above) and at a page devoted to mindfulness (see link above).

I have a very positive view of the benefits of mindfulness meditation, as a result of receiving highly capable instruction at an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in Toronto in 2004. I signed up for such a course at a time when I was feeling very stressed out in my work as a public school teacher.

At that time 20 years ago I was feeling that my daily stress responses in the classroom were likely to be damaging to my health unless I found some means to deal with them in a practical, productive way.

The previous posts and entries at the web page that I set up, soon after I launched this website, also discuss a myth, widely promulgated in the West. The myth claims that – unlike adherents of all other major world religions – followers of Buddhism can be characterized as invariably nonviolent.

I’ve also shared news reports extending over many years about a range of scandals related to a number of practitioners of Tibetan Buddhist meditation in North America and elsewhere. I have a long-time interest in the history of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet. I also have an interest in the scandals that can emerge from within any religion or system of religious practices.

The book under review claims that a system of teaching mindfulness such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction constitutes what the author characterizes as McMindfulness. In my anecdotal experience, such a claim appears unwarranted.

The book additionally claims that the teaching of mindfulness in a secular context (which is how the MBSR course is structured) is not a suitable way to proceed. It’s been my own anecdotal experience, however, that the separation of mindfulness from religious dogma is in fact an eminently wise and sound way to go.

In a democratic society – or at least in a plutocracy, in which claims are made that we live in a democratic society – if a person wishes to claim that the MBSR approach constitutes McMindfulness, then they are free to proceed to advocate on behalf of such a point of view. At least in some countries, a person is free to express pretty much whichever views may occur to them.

In summary, the book makes for an interesting read and I’m pleased it’s available at the Stratford Public Library.

America is a plutocracy

I’ve recently been reading about plutocracy as a system of government. Graeme Decarie, who taught history at Malcolm Campbell High School in Montreal before he went on to a career as a historian at Concordia University, has often spoken about the United States as being run by billionaires. That’s a way of saying that the US is a plutocracy.

I thought of Graeme Decarie’s extensive and strongly expressed comments about the United States when I was recently reading End Times (2023) by Peter Turchin.

In note 1 on p. 312, regarding Chapter 5: The Ruling Class, Turchin observes that “This opinion – that America is a plutocracy – is shared by a number of influ­ential thinkers, including Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Kevin Phillips, and Chrystia Freeland.”

Until I read Turchin’s 2023 book, I had not given much thought to the concept that the United States – like a number of other countries – can be viewed as ruled by a plutocracy – that is, run by billionaires.

I have not yet begun to read about whether Canada can be characterized as a plutocracy. However, at this point it occurs to me that, to the extent that Canada is dominated by the United States, Canada may at a fundamental level be under the domination and control of plutocrats as well.

Oligarchs in Ukraine

In some parts of the world, plutocrats are known as oligarchs.

A Jan. 15, 2024 New York Times article is entitled: “The War Has Reined In Ukraine’s Oligarchs, at Least for Now: Oligarchs have lost billions from the shelling of their factories, and the government has used its wartime powers to break their political influence.”

An excerpt reads:

Now, the Ukrainian authorities plan to use their wartime powers to try to make a clean break with the oligarchs. The aim is to reduce their influence over the economy and politics, and to prosecute those who had engaged in corrupt practices, carrying through on policies that President Volodymyr Zelensky had promised to pursue before the invasion.

“They are weak, and it’s a unique opportunity to achieve justice in terms of how the country should be run,” Denys Maliuska, Ukraine’s justice minister, said in an interview.

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